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Cat and the Mystery and of Mamo (Pt. 1) by Acton Bell
SUMMARY: There's no rest for the delightfully wicked as a theif finds out when she tries to take a vacation.
"May I join you?"
Izzavert Vree, who had been quite jealously guarding his privacy and incidentally the only unoccupied chair in the over-crowded dining room, prepared to bark out a brusque "No" and send the interloper on her way. Instead, he found himself saying "Please."
As a non-humanoid sentient hive colony Vree was not, of course, attracted to humanoids. Truth be told, all humans looked alike to him. But this one had vivacity, a sparkle, which was attractive to even a non-humanoid.
An ocular being himself, he immediately noticed her eyes. They had a slight, upward slant to them and were a warm, tawny shade, though he detected hints of sapphire and jade in them also.
As for the rest of her, she seemed of average height for a human, which meant she did not quite reach the top of his colony canister was he standing, and her proportions were distributed uniformly. She was not baring her teeth in the manner humans seemed to feel was ingratiating. Vree privately considered it a very unattractive mannerism and was pleased that she merely nodded and said "Thank you" before taking the empty chair.
He was prepared to be coolly polite and discourage conversation. Though he had been foolish enough to allow her to sit with him, he did not have to put up with the foolish questions and ideas humans inevitably trotted out when in the presence of a hive colony. However, rather than staring rudely and chatting, the human female ignored him to sip at her drink and look over the crowd.
Piqued in spite of himself, Vree turned his attention to the other diners, trying to ascertain who or what had captured her interest.
The star liner Wandering Star's ultimate destination was Liji, in the Moset Cluster, a paradise planetary system that catered to all sentients. The passengers, therefore, were a mix of species. There were Robrtians, easily identifiable by their many flexible appendages; Joldians, a short statured, large craniumed eel-like race; soft-shelled Prens; Tohagian rock-heads, who resembled floating rocks; a few Aparians like himself; Pantu Conian snow slugs, and various humanoids. Vree could see nothing interest inspiring about any of them.
"You enjoy crowd watching?"
Vree returned his attention to his companion. While he had been studying the others, she had been looking at him. "It is a way to pass time," he said cautiously, still unsure if he wanted to converse. "I am Izzavert Vree."
"Cat Diablo," she said.
The name was nothing more to Izzavert Vree than a collection of syllables identifying that particular humanoid. He merely nodded his canister in acknowledgement and deliberated on whether to continue the conversation or let it die a natural death.
Had that particular collection of syllables been uttered in the presence of one of the Thousand Galaxies' many law enforcement officials or its equal number of criminals, the reaction would have been quite different.
The name ‘Cat Diablo' was legendary, infamous even, among those who enforced society's laws and those who broke them.